Grit by Angela Duckworth

We all want to become successful in life, but there is no set formula for success. Jim Rohn would tell you “Success is something you attract by the person you become.” This insightful book by Philadelphia-based UPenn psychology professor, Angela Duckworth, highlighted the why, how, and what of GRIT – a quality that can help YOU attract success!

Grit matters because it’s directly linked to effort, and according to Angela, effort counts twice when you try to turn talents into achievements:

Talent × Effort = Skill
Skill × Effort = Achievement

Talent is how quickly your skills will improve when you invest efforts. Achievement is what happens when you take your acquired skills and use them.

So how to to become “grittier”? I.P.P.H.! To help you remember, it’s “I Play the Piano Hard!”

1. Interest

  • Almost every single commencement speakers would tell colleges grads to follow their passions. It’s easier said than done unfortunately. Following a passion requires a passion; discovering true passion is not easy. We don’t wake up one morning and find our passions written on our foreheads.
  • According to Angela, “Passion for your work is a little bit of discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening.”
  • Trying new things is important to discover interests, “interests are triggered by interactions with the outside world… Without experimenting, you can’t figure out which interests will stick, and which won’t.” However, it is also important to follow through on things you started. How do you balance these two seemly contradicting ideas of experimenting and following through?
  • Angela is a big advocate of extra-curricular activities – great builders of grit, and her family lives by “the Hard Thing Rule”:
    • Everyone in the Duckworth family has to do a “hard thing” – something that requires daily deliberate practice.
    • You can quit, but not until the season is over or the tuition payment is up, or some natural stopping points. (Angela said after her kids go to high school, the rule will be a minimum commitment of two years)
    • You get to pick your own hard thing.

2. Practice

  • Grittier and successful people strive for Kaizen – a Japanese word for continuous improvement; they practice longer and more deliberately.
  • The Talent Code by Dan Coyle calls deliberate practice deep practice. According to Angela, the following is how experts practice:
    • Set a stretch goal
    • Zero in on just one narrow aspect of the overall performance
    • Strive to improve specific weakness (do you know what are your weaknesses?)
    • Undivided attention and efforts practicing alone
    • Seek immediate feedback (esp. negative feedback)
    • Repetition with reflection and refinement
      [Sounds familiar? Recall what The Practicing Mind said about DOC: Do-Observe-Correct?]

3. Purpose

  • Angela used the parable of the three bricklayers:
    • Job: “I’m laying bricks.”
    • Career: “I’m building a church.”
    • Calling: “I’m building the house of God.”
  • Similar to passion, calling doesn’t come to you overnight, but you can develop it. Ask yourself:
    • How is your current work making a positive contribution to society?
    • What small but meaningful things you can do to enhance the connection between your work and your core values?
    • Whose life inspire you to be a better person, and why?

4. Hope

  • Angela described two types of hope:
    • Hope without the burden of responsibilities: “I hope tomorrow will be sunnier.” “I hope the path ahead is smoother”
    • Hope on the basis that “our efforts can improve our future.” Grit depends on this type of hope. It gives us control – it is the opposite of learned helpless – it empowers you to get back to your feet and keep fighting.
      [Does this mindset of “I can improve to make things better” sound familiar? Yep, it is what Carol Dweck advocates in her Mindset: the New Psychology of Success.]

Angela also mentioned the social multiplier effect, and how you can become grittier by joining/creating a gritty culture. WeZBest strives to cultivate a gritty community and amplify the social multiplier effect. So thank you for being a part of this to “enrich the environment of all of us!”  🙂

Social Multiplier Effect

How do you build your own grit (passion + perseverance)? Comment below; I’d love to hear from you! 


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